Skype CEO: 21 million Skype users back online
Internet calling and messaging service Skype SA mostly recovered Thursday from an outage caused by an undisclosed glitch, but problems lingered for its worldwide user base.
The service went down for almost all of its users starting at midday Eastern time on Wednesday. By Thursday afternoon, things had improved to the point where about 21 million users were logged in, said CEO Tony Bates. That was 10 percent less than the usual traffic for the time of day, as some people still could not log on.
Voice calling, video-chatting and text-based instant messaging are working for most users, Bates said, but other features, such as offline instant messaging and group video calls, are still down.
Speaking through a computer running Skype, Bates declined to say what caused the software on individual users' computers to crash, which in turn caused network issues. He also would not say whether the problem originated from within Skype or was caused by external factors. On the company blog, Bates said he believes the outage was not caused by a malicious attack.
"We have a very good handle on what caused the problem," Bates said. "We are still doing an in-depth post-mortem."
On average, 124 million people use Skype each month, though the total number of registered users is more than four times that. In a video posted on the Skype blog, Bates said the problems "completely took almost every user offline."
The Luxembourg-based company said customers who pre-pay for service or are on pay-as-you-go plans will receive an e-mail with a voucher for 30 minutes of free calling to landlines anywhere in the world. Subscribers will be credited with a week's extra subscription service.
Skype on Wednesday said a problem affecting some versions of Skype caused many of its "supernodes" to go offline. Supernodes are computers that the company likens to phone directories, helping Skype users connect with each other.
Skype repurposed some servers to act as supernodes, which is why non-core services including group chats still aren't working, the CEO said.
Bates said Skype is trying to do everything it can to make sure the service is always available, but that he has learned a lot of lessons about disaster recovery and communication with customers during this outage. He joined Skype from Cisco Systems Inc., the maker of networking gear, two months ago.
Skype is still working out details for vouchers to compensate people who suffered from the downtime.
Skype's software offers a range of free services, including the ability to make voice or video calls and send instant messages to other Skype users. Users pay for services such as making calls from a PC to a landline or cell phone.
Skype's popularity around the globe stems in large part from the free or cheap calls it provides. Other Internet-based calling services that compete with the traditional phone system also have problems with consistent service. Earlier this year, AT&T Inc.'s Internet-based "U-verse" phone system went down for several hours, affecting 1.15 million customers.
A year ago, eBay Inc. sold its majority stake in the business for about $2 billion to an investor group that includes Skype's founders. Skype has indicated that it wants to list its shares on the Nasdaq Stock Market.
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